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Best Buy Recalls MacBook Pro Batteries

Soulskill posted about 10 months ago | from the to-be-rebranded-as-iGrills dept.

Businesses 56

redletterdave writes "A recent line of complaints from MacBook Pro users forced big box retailer Best Buy to finally issue a recall notice for 5,100 MacBook Pro replacement batteries after the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission advised customers to 'immediately stop using the recalled battery.' Both the CPSC and Best Buy received 13 individual instances of the MacBook Pro battery catching fire, with one incident resulting in 'a serious burn to a consumer's leg.'"

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Wow. (5, Informative)

American AC in Paris (230456) | about 10 months ago | (#44074459)

The summary might have mentioned that these were third-party batteries, yeah?

Re:Wow. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44074471)

I suspected it based on the summary, but it would've been better to explicitly state it upfront.

The sourced article is bad about it too. It doesn't explicitly state that they're made by a third party until a few paragraphs in.

Re:Wow. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44075085)

Go back to school and learn to read. It says they were made by a third party in the very first sentence:

Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) has had issues over the years with batteries overheating, but recent complaints by MacBook Pro users were too hot to handle, forcing big-box retailer Best Buy Co. Inc. (NYSE:BBY) to finally issue a recall notice for 5,100 replacement batteries made by a third party as the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, or CPSC, advised customers to “immediately stop using the recalled battery.”

Re:Wow. (1)

JustOK (667959) | about 10 months ago | (#44075551)

So, Apple does make some batteries?

Re:Wow. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44075655)

I didn't even know it used batteries, I figured they just provided a splitter for the gaydar power supply.

Re:Wow. (2)

BasilBrush (643681) | about 10 months ago | (#44078581)

Of course not. They are supplied by 3rd parties. And Apple then becomes responsible for them when they include them in Macs.

However, this story concerns batteries that were never preinstalled in Macs, or were in any way supplied or authorized by Apple. This is simply a case of Best Buy buying some cheap 3rd party replacement batteries, then finding out later why they were cheap.

Re:Wow. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44079841)

Of course not. They are supplied by 3rd parties. And Apple then becomes responsible for them when they include them in Macs.

However, this story concerns batteries that were never preinstalled in Macs, or were in any way supplied or authorized by Apple. This is simply a case of Best Buy buying some cheap 3rd party replacement batteries, then finding out later why they were cheap.

But its still clearly Apple's fault for allowing people to replace batteries. Or something ;-)

Re:Wow. (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | about 10 months ago | (#44116071)

This is simply a case of Best Buy buying some cheap 3rd party replacement batteries, then finding out later why they were cheap.

Rather unfair. Why single out 3rd party replacement batteries?

Re:Wow. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44074573)

How would 200 comments bash Apple if they did?!

its happened to apple before (0)

decora (1710862) | about 10 months ago | (#44074579)

so fuck 'em.

Re:its happened to apple before (3, Informative)

UnknowingFool (672806) | about 10 months ago | (#44074715)

You mean with batteries made by Sony? As such the issue wasn't isolated to Apple laptops but affected Dell, IBM, basically everyone who used Sony batteries. Yes Apple really was at fault for that.

Re:its happened to apple before (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44074877)

YES, it is. Subcontracting doesn't absolve you of shit. You are ultimately responsible for any tasks you assign to others.

Dell, IBM, "basically everyone else" are equally responsible - although of course any who have packaged the batteries as removable are showing a much more responsible approach.

Re:its happened to apple before (1)

black6host (469985) | about 10 months ago | (#44077049)

YES, it is. Subcontracting doesn't absolve you of shit.

This ^. Apply this to many other topics here on /. We may offload our work, but we don't offload our responsibilities. Not and be considered "responsible". Think about it.....

Re:its happened to apple before (1)

BasilBrush (643681) | about 10 months ago | (#44078545)

So Best Buy are responsible for this. They ordered the batteries from a third party. Apple is not connected in any way, nor responsible.

Re:its happened to apple before (1)

UnknowingFool (672806) | about 10 months ago | (#44081999)

I can see where blame really resides. Apple releases mapping technology that isn't ready; that was their fault. Apple used batteries from a third party that had defects that everyone experienced and no one knew about forehand. How is that their fault?

Um at the time of the Sony battery recall (2006), everyone including Apple used removable batteries. It wasn't until the MacBook Air (2008) was first introduced that Apple started sealing batteries. Also everyone else started doing the same.

Re:its happened to apple before (0)

recoiledsnake (879048) | about 10 months ago | (#44076403)

You mean with batteries made by Sony? As such the issue wasn't isolated to Apple laptops but affected Dell, IBM, basically everyone who used Sony batteries. Yes Apple really was at fault for that.

Wait, don't people like you say that it's good to pay the Apple premium because they have better hardware?

If they have the same shit hardware as the rest of the OEMs why buy Macs and pay through the nose again?

Re:its happened to apple before (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44076847)

Apple is responsible for every component that they choose to put in their electronics. They are also responsible for the layout and design of their electronics, which may be the cause of these exploding batteries. This has happened many times with Apple products, since the first PowerBook computer/desktop hibachi. to exploding iPods, iPhones and Macbooks.

Re:its happened to apple before (1)

Anubis IV (1279820) | about 10 months ago | (#44074857)

By your logic, if I modify my car, we should continue to hold $car_manufacturer accountable for any problems I have with the parts I added from other manufacturers, so long as $car_manufacturer had a problem with that part at some point in their history. That's moronic.

Not only that, but as someone else has already pointed out, those batteries you're referencing were manufactured by Sony, not Apple, and affected a wide range of brands [cnet.com], not just Apple. Everyone involved made things right by engaging in the largest consumer electronics recall in history.

Re:its happened to apple before (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44112377)

By your logic, if I modify my car, we should continue to hold $car_manufacturer accountable for any problems I have with the parts I added from other manufacturers, so long as $car_manufacturer had a problem with that part at some point in their history. That's moronic.

Not only that, but as someone else has already pointed out, those batteries you're referencing were manufactured by Sony, not Apple, and affected a wide range of brands [cnet.com], not just Apple. Everyone involved made things right by engaging in the largest consumer electronics recall in history.

You've been doing too much powershell scripting.

Re:Wow. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44074581)

The summary might have mentioned that these were third-party batteries, yeah?

Why? It says Where you bought it, and What you bought. Check the ones you bought, do they match "Best Buy" and "MacBook"? If so, take it back and demand a new one. Don't ask, demand it. Make sure to use plenty of profanity directed at the character of the clerk, etc.

It could also have mentioned "2008"... (3, Informative)

tlambert (566799) | about 10 months ago | (#44074873)

It could also have mentioned "2008"... the year the black and white plastic case Mac laptops and the replacement batteries from ATG were sold.

Best Buy has been fighting this recall of the third party batteries they sold to these consumers for about 5 years now.

Re:Wow. (1)

TheSkepticalOptimist (898384) | about 10 months ago | (#44094979)

All Apple batteries are 3rd party, last I checked Apple doesn't actually make any batteries. The only difference is that Apple has learned from past fiascoes to install better quality 3rd party batteries then what you are going to get from Best Buy.

NOT SO FONDLY I TAKE IT !! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44074473)

I Am Apple !! LOVE ME !!

Re:NOT SO FONDLY I TAKE IT !! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44075181)

Ok
Ben Dover

Not An Apple Fan (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44074481)

...but, it should be noted that these are aftermarket batteries from a manufacturer named ATG.

I'm fairly certain that this does not apply to Apple batteries. It seems like the article summary could have made that clear. I wonder if the failure to do so was intentional, perhaps click bait.

Re:Not An Apple Fan (4, Funny)

russotto (537200) | about 10 months ago | (#44074533)

I'm fairly certain that this does not apply to Apple batteries.

Right. As I noted in the firehose article, this is third party batteries only and Apple batteries still only catch fire if you hold them wrong.

I wonder if the failure to do so was intentional, perhaps click bait.

Slashdot, owned by Dice... the cases for incompetence and malice are both so strong....

More Battery Issues (3, Interesting)

organgtool (966989) | about 10 months ago | (#44074563)

It's interesting to note that it's only a certain replacement battery offered by Best Buy. However, Apple's batteries haven't been much better in the past. I had two bulge out of their case before I decided to go with a third party battery. The third party battery has worked great ever since. However, incidents like these make me very hesitant to buy or recommend a unibody design since the battery is not user-replaceable.

Re:More Battery Issues (2)

sincewhen (640526) | about 10 months ago | (#44074781)

And yet, I don't recall hearing about machines (from Apple or any other manufacturer) having battery problems lately.

Could it be that this is just a bad batch of cheaply made 3rd party batteries? I think so.

Re:More Battery Issues (3, Informative)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about 10 months ago | (#44075365)

First, the unibody Macs have batteries that are replaceable by anyone with a Torx driver and enough eye-hand coordination to use it. Secondly, if the Apple branded battery squashed bits inside the Mac, you'd have a good warranty claim to replace the whole computer. What's not to like?

Currently, I think LiOn batteries are a crap shoot. Of the dozen or so I have on various bits of equipment, I've had one Apple brand battery expand rapidly, one aftermarket battery for an older white MacBook do the same, one Nikon battery actually start smoking, two Wasabi batteries go tits up and one GoPro battery just petulantly refuse to do anything right out the box.

That's why all my battery chargers sit on a nice 1/4 thick aluminum plate with 72 inches of clear ceiling above them.

Re:More Battery Issues (1)

cforciea (1926392) | about 10 months ago | (#44075593)

I think I'm obligated to say that only an Apple user would assume that one's laptop will replaced before its warranty expires.

Re:More Battery Issues (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44075677)

I think I'm obligated to say that only an Apple user would assume that one's laptop will replaced before its warranty expires.

As opposed to PC users assuming their laptops will be replaced after the warranty runs out?

Re:More Battery Issues (1)

Agripa (139780) | about 10 months ago | (#44086095)

Secondly, if the Apple branded battery squashed bits inside the Mac, you'd have a good warranty claim to replace the whole computer.

This is the standard failure mode for lithium polymer batteries. When they are overcharged, deep discharged, or wear out with age, they expand into any available space distorting their prismatic form factor and crushing anything in the surrounding environment. Normally there is no available space since products are designed to hold the maximum possible battery volume. The batteries might as well include "self destructs after warranty period disabling product" as a marketing feature.

PbSO4 cells do the same thing to a lesser extent but are rarely packed tightly so it is not as noticeable.

Re:More Battery Issues (1)

tlhIngan (30335) | about 10 months ago | (#44092593)

Currently, I think LiOn batteries are a crap shoot. Of the dozen or so I have on various bits of equipment, I've had one Apple brand battery expand rapidly, one aftermarket battery for an older white MacBook do the same, one Nikon battery actually start smoking, two Wasabi batteries go tits up and one GoPro battery just petulantly refuse to do anything right out the box.

The problem is not the battery, it's energy density. Unfortunately, energy density is also related to two important factors - battery life and form factor. A more energy-dense battery gives you longer life and the whole device can be made smaller and more portable (otherwise why do you use such batteries? A UPS uses un-dense lead-acids because formfactor and weight don't matter, and deep-cycle batteries that work better than other chemistries).

Problem is, such energy density leads to problems - like any energy-bearing good, the end result can be harmless and productive or harmful and destructive. There's not a lot that differentiates a combustion from an explosion (indeed, an explosion in a car engine is usually referred to as "knock" which can damage the engine). Or a nuclear bomb from a nuclear reactor (an uncontrolled reaction versus controlled). Or a battery from "venting with flame" and operating normally.

Re:More Battery Issues (3, Interesting)

SimonTheSoundMan (1012395) | about 10 months ago | (#44075857)

Re:More Battery Issues (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44078425)

Bulging batteries are a controlled failure. They're designed to bulge on failure rather than explode, which would be catastrophic.

RTFA Before Posting Please (2)

wjcofkc (964165) | about 10 months ago | (#44074745)

I'm going to say it right now: between the sensationalist and misleading summary (missing a slightly important point), and what the actual article says... this is going to be one giant "go RTFA fest" as the apple haters jump to conclusions and don't read the article.

I'll give you a hint: why would Best Buy and not apple be doing the recall?

Nothing personal against apple haters, my best friend is one. All I'm saying is, for a site where people often go off of the summary, without RTFA, this is a complete and total setup.

I love you Slashdot, I've been here under one account or another since day one. Sometimes I think your editing is actually based on keeping me sentimental. Kisses.

LOL Crapple (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44074815)

Clearly they were juat holding their MacBook Pros wrong. Too bad Saint Steve is no longer around to put up the reality-distortion field. This is why you don't buy Crapple products.

Re:LOL Crapple (0)

pbjones (315127) | about 10 months ago | (#44075209)

They were not Apple supplied batteries and they weren't MacBook Pros. Read the article before spewing crap. It's Best Buy's error.

Errors... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44074957)

First the error that is also in both articles, the battery is for the MacBook (white/black models), and NOT the MacBook Pro. Second as others have stated, this is a third party battery, not made by Apple.

Re:Errors... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44074963)

Per http://www.macrumors.com/2013/06/19/best-buy-recalls-third-party-macbook-batteries-over-fire-risk/

now that's (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44075723)

Apple quality engineering right there!

Not made to the same standards as Apple (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44075815)

Please don't flame me into oblivion for saying that. I know Apple stuff is manufactured as cheaply as possible these days, but the fact of the matter is that Apple at least has standards given that they're a major corporation. They generally know what they're doing on the hardware end of things, and can be held accountable if a battery explodes or bursts into flames and burns down your house.

I have personally dismantled one of these effected batteries (on a consultation contract from an insurance company). The insides look nothing like the equivalent Apple replacement P/N. For one, the Apple batteries are actually pretty advanced- they've got a built in uC that actually monitors a bunch of variables pulled off the cell, and even keeps track of the number of cycles the cell has gone through and some min/max stuff from the last charging cycle. There's a temperature sensor and a whole bunch of fuses/disconnects designed to protect the unit from a hard short. The SMC built into the computer side communicates with the battery uC and provides a bunch of variable reporting, error handling, and emergency shutdown stuff.

The third party battery basically has none of this. The external chassis is compatible with the Apple unit (as to fit in the laptop properly), but that's about it. The micro controller built into the third party battery basically does nothing- it only implements enough functionality to keep the SMC happy and allow the laptop to identify and use the battery. There are no thermal safeties, no fuses, nothing. The laptop should be able to detect a defective cell on the Apple branded unit and actually refuse to charge it- but that is impossible on these third party batteries because the uC is hardcoded to basically return "I'm OK!" irregardless of the physical state of the lithium packs.

IMHO; these things shouldn't have been sold at all. The fact that they're going up in smoke now is absolutely no surprise. I can only compare the cheapness of these batteries to other "Apple compatible" accessories that come from third party companies in China. They skimp out on everything possible, and you get something that if you're lucky just barely works- and if you're not, then it burns your house down. If you want to check that kind of thing out, just google the difference between the official Apple USB wall chargers, and the design of the Chinese 3rd party equivalent. It is vastly the same thing with these lithium batteries.

Re:Not made to the same standards as Apple (1)

Jesus_666 (702802) | about 10 months ago | (#44077739)

The laptop should be able to detect a defective cell on the Apple branded unit and actually refuse to charge it

It is. Shortly before my last MBP went out of warranty the battery symbol was replaced with a warning sign and the dropdown menu informed me that the battery required attention from a service technician and wouldn't be charged until then. At the local certified reseller they connected a Firewire drive and booted into a diagnostic program, which informed them that the battery was damaged and needed to be replaced.

I don't know if it's a reaction to the time when Sony accidentally sold IEDs instead of batteries to various manufacturers but recent Apple batteries are pretty damn smart.

Re:Not made to the same standards as Apple (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44078535)

Batteries aren't the only knockoffs that are awful. The quality of Chinese knockoff chargers is notoriously bad.
There are dozens of youtube videos of EE buffs dissembling and testing these devices and showing how astonishingly bad they are. Everything from dangerous (and in most countries illegal) designs, and truly awful output characteristics are endemic.

It turns out the genuine apple iphone and ipad chargers really are very high quality and very well designed. Genuine blackberry charges seem to be well regarded too.

But don't take my word for it.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_exfmbsPqEI
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wi-b9k-0KfE
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wi-b9k-0KfE

Re:Not made to the same standards as Apple (1)

russotto (537200) | about 10 months ago | (#44078725)

Batteries aren't the only knockoffs that are awful. The quality of Chinese knockoff chargers is notoriously bad.

Yep, over on the R/C hobby forums people have disassembled some of the knockoff hobby chargers. Some are exact copies down to the circuit board layout, but they'll do dumb stuff like use 10% or 20% tolerance resistors instead of 1%. For charging lithium batteries voltage control is crucial, so that's just asking to destroy batteries. The especially stupid thing is that you could buy the correct components at retail, replace them yourself, and have a charger that works but STILL costs tons less than the real thing. But apparently either the knockoff makers are exceptionally greedy or exceptionally incompetent or both.

I expect laptop battery chargers are pretty much the same thing. Put them on a scope and you'll see too-high voltages with a lot of ripple.

typical (3, Interesting)

slashmydots (2189826) | about 10 months ago | (#44077019)

You go to the manufacturer of any laptop and a brand new original battery is usually $150+. Ebay gets you a $20 3rd party battery with sketchy cells, a 6 month useable life, and typically the wrong chip so it won't charge. Batteries Plus or Best Buy charge at least $100 and then give you a sketchy 3rd party battery, making them both the worst possible option. Why people even still go to them is beyond me.

Re:typical (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44078985)

Well, because it says right there in the name: they're the *Best Buy*!!! See how this works?

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